Balsamic vinegar is almost as prevalent in kitchen pantries as salt and pepper. Once you taste pomegranate molasses, sometimes described as the Middle Eastern equivalent of balsamic, you’ll find yourself reaching for it frequently as well. From salad dressings to grains and from meats to desserts, pomegranate molasses’ tart and tangy flavor livens up so many dishes. It’s no wonder it’s so widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine along with other tart add-ons like sumac and barberries.
As I mentioned in my roasted fruit post, the Tasting Jerusalem group explored pomegranate molasses for our September ingredient, cooking recipes from the book as outlined in our ingredient post, as well as creating some of our own. Here are the highlights including a simple and satisfying salad dressing recipe included at the end of the post:
A Bit of Serendipity
As luck would have it, another cooking group called “Cook the Books” was cooking through “Jerusalem” in September. One of our members, Aimée Goggins of the blog Homemade Trade belongs to that group and shared their cooking bonanza with us. Aimée prepared the wheat berries and swiss chard with pomegranate molasses to slightly mixed reviews along with several other “Jerusalem” favorites like the shakshuka. Head over to Aimée’s post to see everything she cooked and visit the other members of the “Cook the Books” group for a multitude of Ottolenghi and “Jerusalem” inspiration. Wow!
Hannah of the blog Blue Kale Road created one of her many inventive recipes as well as preparing the fried cauliflower with tahini, roasting the cauliflower instead of frying it – a great idea.
Our friends at Mezze and Dolce blog, inspired by a bruschetta eaten in a vegetarian wine bar, created their own version, mixing the pomegranate molasses with sriracha among other things – yum!
And our cooking cohort in New Zealand, Susan Busch of the blog Couscous and Consciousness, nearly wrote the pomegranate molasses bible. She has been cooking through Ottolenghi/Tamimi recipes for months with her cooking group, I Heart Cooking Clubs and has amassed a plethora of pomegranate knowledge that she generously shares with us in this post. Please head over for a read and then bookmark it for future reference.
What Sarene and I were cooking up!
Sarene cooked the wheat berry and swiss chard dish, some salad dressing & used the molasses to drizzle on beets. I experimented with a roasted fruit recipe and a simple vinaigrette (see below) as well as working with quince for the first time.
I found quince at the farmers market and decided to make a version of the lamb and quince recipe without stuffing the quince, as the headnote in the recipe suggests. I asked Mr. Ottolenghi for some guidance on preparing the dish when bypassing the tedious task of hollowing out the quince. One key suggestion is to brown the meatballs before marrying them with the quince mixture.
Quince are, by the way, a very interesting fruit worth getting to know. Their appearance is like a cross between a Golden Delicious apple and a Bartlett pear and the flesh can turn a pinky orange when prepared with sugar water, as for the Spanish-inspired quince jam. However you use them, don’t judge them by their flavor when raw – it is not appealing. Only when cooked, does the apple pear flavor with overtones of the tropics appear. For more about this under-used fruit, check out this LA Times Russ Parsons article on quince.
Pomegranate Molasses Salad Dressing Recipe
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- ⅛ cup of white balsamic vinegar (regular would work as well)
- 1 ¼ tablespoons pomegranate molasses (adjust up or down to your tangy taste buds – my molasses had a touch of sugar in it, if yours does not, you may want just a bit of honey or sugar to balance the tart)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste (1/4 to ½ teaspoon each to start)
- In a small bowl combine the shallots, vinegar and pomegranate molasses, then whisk in the olive oil.
- Taste, then add salt and pepper or other herbs to your own liking.
Join the group for more inspiration!
Join our Tasting Jerusalem group as we continue to explore Middle Eastern cuisine through the cookbook “Jerusalem: A Cookbook“, “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook“, and beyond. You can find us on FB, G+, Pinterest, OMG! Yummy blog, and the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram.